“I felt the need to find an avenue through which I could apply what I had learned in the field to real world scenarios”

In this student blogger feature, I caught up with Urvi Kalra, Class of 2018. In her blog, Urvi utilizes her expertise as a media and film studies Minor to lead us through her DC experience, weaving together text, photos, and videos. Read more about our thoughts on her off-campus study here:


1. What class year are you? What is your major/minor?

I am a Junior at Skidmore, Class of 2018. I am an Environmental Studies Major and Media and Film Studies Minor.

2. You’ve gone abroad before–can you tell us why you chose to study off-campus again and how you believe your experience this time will shape your future goals at Skidmore?

The time I spent in Tanzania, in the Spring of 2017, was life changing. As someone who has always been a wildlife conservation advocate, my experiences in Tanzania exposed me to the other side of the story of conservation. Speaking to individuals and families who were living at the periphery of world renowned national parks like the Serengeti exposed me to the interconnections between wildlife conservation and international development.

When I came back to Skidmore in the Fall, I was sure I wanted to go abroad again, not just because I could, but also because I felt the need to find an avenue through which I could apply what I had learned in the field to real world scenarios. I heard about the American University program in Sustainable Development through other ES majors and decided to expand my knowledge base about the interconnections between conservation and development. Additionally, a lot of international development and conservation companies are in DC, and so I wanted to learn more about the work they do and to build my network.

3. What is the living situation on your program? (Homestay, apartment, dorm-style, etc.) How has that impacted your semester and your interactions with the host culture?

At American University I am currently living in a double dorm room. Students can choose if they want to live on or off campus. AU has a great city campus and is one of the leading schools in sustainability including LEED certified buildings and carbon offsetting budgets. Living on campus allows you to be close to downtown DC while being a part of the AU community.

4. What’s it like to live in an urban campus in the nation’s capital? How do you find it compared to Skidmore’s small, rural campus?

Nothing compares to Skidmore’s sprawling campus and 150 acres of the North Woods! However, being in DC means you can intern at numerous places during the semester ,network with professionals while taking the train back to campus, and attend various events throughout the year. Skidmore has its strengths, but I would definitely recommend coming to DC and getting to experience this kind of student life just for one semester, regardless of your academic interests, as AU offers different kinds of programs.

5. How is blogging for Skidmore OCSE going so far? Does it play a role in how you interact with the city?

I have really enjoyed blogging for OCSE in DC. It has been challenging because there are so many restrictions about where and who one can photograph, but it definitely allows me to always keep my eyes and ears open. I have learned more and been able to soak in more of the city because I am always searching for something interesting to share

Be sure to check out Urvi’s blog here!